By: Ste Rowen
If March 2018 was the month of the heavyweight’s current elite, then June is surely it’s month for prospects…and Tyson Fury.
Last weekend saw the return of the lineal heavyweight champion from an almost 3-year hiatus; as well as 2016 Olympic bronze medallist, Filip Hrgovic moving to 5-0 (4KOs) with a 4th round stoppage over the previously unbeaten Mexican, Filiberto Tovar.
Photo Credit: Joy Joyce Twitter Account
Next week we’ll see 2016 gold medallist, Tony Yoka 4-0 (3KOs), take on former opponent of Luis Ortiz and Dillian Whyte, Dave ‘The White Rhino’ Allen in Paris; as well as Daniel Dubois taking on his biggest test in Tom Little at the O2 arena in London for the English heavyweight belt.
But this weekend, at heavyweight at least, belongs to current Commonwealth champion and 4-0 (4KOs), Joe ‘The Juggernaut’ Joyce who takes on 12-1 (9KOs), Richard Lartey of Ghana at London’s York Hall.
It’s been a sharp rise for the 2016 Rio silver medallist. Joyce started his pro career in a risky bout with Ian Lewison, who just 12 months previous to their fight, fought Dillian Whyte for the British belt, in which Lewison was eventually grinded down into a 10th round stoppage, of a fairly one-sided fight.
Even so, the risk was high for the ‘Juggernaut’, but the reward was eventually worth it. Overcoming a few awkward, early rounds until eventually finding his stride in his pro-debut and dominating his fellow Brit, forcing Lewison’s corner to throw in the towel in the 8th round.
From there, the talk from Joyce’s corner was big, including his promoter, David Haye eyeing bouts with the best of Britain, as well as attempting to goad Dereck Chisora into a fight with his protégé. More recently, Joyce called out Jerrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller on Twitter.
Joe was back out for his second and third pro bouts in February and March this year, spending just less than 4 minutes of combined time in the ring to knockout Rudolf Jozic, and America’s Donnie Palmer. Then it was onto his biggest fight yet, up against the Commonwealth champion at the time Lenroy Thomas, on the undercard of BellewHaye2.
The Jamaican turned up looking in great shape, he always seems to, but once the first bell tolled, his conditioning leant nothing to stopping the ‘Juggernaut’ hurtling towards him. Dropping his foe three times in total before the referee waved off the bout towards the end of the 2nd round, Joe Joyce was now the Commonwealth champion in just 4 fights. Quicker than Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, Lennox Lewis and Trevor Berbick. Not a bad record to have, especially if Joyce manages to claim the British as well – currently held by Hughie Fury – within the next year.
It’s not just talent that’s seeing Joe put onto the fast track. At 32, even for a heavyweight, time isn’t exactly on his side if he wants his peak to coincide with facing the very best of his division.
His opponent on Friday will be fighting someone with a winning record for just the 4th time in his pro career.
Lartey knocked out 1-0, Nuzu Azuma in his 4th fight; was stopped by 11-0, Ergun Mersin in the 5th round of his one and only fight so far outside of Ghana; and in September last year he earned a 12-round decision over 13-7-1, Ibrahim Marshall in what would be his 6th fight of 2017.
It’s difficult to ascertain whether the Ghanaian is a worthy opponent for Joyce, his record, despite only 1 defeat, suggests not, and there’s next to no footage online of Lartey, but if nothing else, at least he’s active.
But on Friday night, if all goes to plan for Joyce, his opponent will play just a small supporting act in his performance. It gives the ‘Juggernaut’ an opportunity to defend the rainbow belt for the first time, and it keeps him active, and in the general boxing public’s minds for the future.